Friday, May 09, 2008

Geary BRT: Merchants out in the cold

Merchants out in the cold
by Keith Wilson
From the Richmond Review

The San Francisco County Transportation Authority has picked 11 citizens to serve on a citizens advisory committee for the Geary Boulevard bus rapid transit proposal that will be going through an environmental analysis.

As a citizen who applied to be on this committee, I have some concerns about the way the members of the board of supervisors went about this in their capacity sitting as members of the transportation authority board's plans and programs committee. Normally, the City has a hard time even filling 11 seats for a committee like this.

However, 75 people applied to be on the committee and 37 of them showed up at a hearing to speak for one minute apiece.

After a detailed analysis of all the applications, a few things became apparent to me. All of the 11 individuals selected show a predisposition to rubber stamp the preferred center lane BRT proposals that are favored by the transportation authority. They primarily represent the interests of transit riders and bicycle activists. The selections have completely ignored anyone who represents the interests of the numerous small business interests and automobile users (both local and motorists who use Geary Boulevard as one of the few major cross-town arteries).

By my analysis, 27 of the people who applied for the committee would have represented these other interests, but none of them were selected. Instead, the word appears to have been put out to flood the committee with applications from people who concur with Transportation Authority views to make it look as if they have been fair in the selection process. but they have not picked a balanced committee.

In September of 2007, the Planning Association for the Richmond (PAR), published an excellent position statement on the proposed Geary Corridor Bus Rapid Transit System (which can be seen at http://www.sfpar.org/), which has been studiously avoided by the Transportation Authority.

It appears that the interests of small merchants, automobile users, and many Richmond District residents have been shut out of this process. Since the Transportation Authority refuses to listen to our concerns, a group of citizens will be forming its own Geary BRT citizens advisory committee. The name of the committee is REAL-C.A.C. This stands for Richmond Express Action League Citizens Advisory Committee,

I feel it is not right for the Transportation Authority to shut out such a large number of local interests, especially when they will be so heavily impacted by the Geary BRT proposal.

We are not against transportation and streetscape improvements. However, we feel that the current proposals are part of a politically correct plan that is being pushed forward as if it is pre-ordained, without any rational analysis of the impact that it is going to have on our neighborhood. We don't think the Transportation Authority is serious about an analysis of what would be the best and most efficient use of taxpayer's money while at the same time providing the best possible improvements to Muni service. We will be closely watching the Transportation Authority's activities and educating the community as this process proceeds.

Keith Wilson is the chairman of REAL-CAC and the owner of a small business in the Richmond District. He can be reached at keithrwilson@earthlink.net

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"Punish us until we are green"

Berkeley is trying to solve its traffic problems with the same punitive anti-car measures as San Francisco. This letter is from the lively online Berkeley publication, The Berkeley Gazette.

PARKING FEES
Editors, Daily Planet:

The proposal for night parking fees is another one of those “punish us until we are green” proposals. Yes, please, charge us more for less. Purify us. Make us sacrifice until we have saved the earth. Tear down parking lots, and make us pay to park on the streets, then complain that there are lines at the lots that haven’t yet been torn down. Everyone pays, except, of course, Code Pink. (But don’t go overboard, by say, increasing public transit, extending the hours of BART or making rides cheaper, faster, and more convenient.)

We don’t need to go out anyway. We will all sit in our homes and read books written on recycled rags illuminated by ecologically correct low wattage light bulbs. After all patronizing downtown business wastes the earth’s resources. We’ve already said Fairfax to the UC, Berkeley, Cinema, and Act I and 2 movie houses. That probably isn’t enough. Now the city is determined to get rid of the UA, California and Shattuck, the last three downtown theaters, in the interest of increasing empty storefronts in the neighborhood. I don’t suppose this will do a world of good for the live theaters, the Rep and Aurora. The Freight and Salvage may want to reconsider moving downtown.

But we here in Berkeley are all so virtuous. Unfortunately most of the rest of the world will go watch movies in the malls.

Paul Glusman

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